First Bite: Luggage Room Unpacks in Pasadena
F. Friesema Jonagold apples
La Grande Orange, the Santa Monica-based bar-and-grill octopus, has been poking its tentacles into all kinds of places lately, including the majestic Anisette space in Santa Monica, where it has just installed a gastropub called The Misfit. Its expansion also has extended to the converted Pasadena Santa Fe Railroad station that was the site of the first local La Grande Orange, and now includes the Luggage Room, a long, dark, high-ceilinged room that serves as a pizzeria -- menu scrawled on mirrors, wooden tables, frothy seas of Craftsman lager.
Like all self-respecting foodists, we have been to Phoenix pizza shrine Pizzeria Bianco, which is good enough to inspire a Pavlovian reaction every time we hear "Phoenix" and "pizza" juxtaposed in a sentence. (On the other hand, when we hear "Phoenix" and "University of" together, we tend to snort Dr. Pepper out of our collective nose.)
Anyway, Luggage Room has bacon-wrapped dates. And a chopped salad that is pretty much the chopped salad at every LGO. And oddly bulky pizzas, crusts raised with natural starters, which taste great when they have sausage and Salumeria Biellese pepperoni on them (we have a soft spot for NYC's Salumeria Biellese); somewhat less great when they come with piquillo peppers, balsamic vinegar and scraps of burrata cheese; sliced avocado; or prosciutto and figs. Still, you can get Fresno chiles and fried eggs on anything, and why wouldn't you?
Is Luggage Room the divine pizza sweeping in from the desert? Not quite. But there is a gluten-free crust if you require that kind of thing, and giant, goopy sundaes for dessert.